The Escalante Heritage Center is located just east of the town of Escalante on Highway 12. There is a small indoor/outdoor museum at the site, which details the trek of Mormon Pioneers from southwestern Utah to southeastern Utah on their famous Hole-in-the-Rock journey.
Have you ever noticed how there is really no good way to drive across southern Utah? You can’t drive east from St. George to Moab without going quite a ways south or far to the north because of the rugged terrain and the Colorado River that cuts across south central Utah. The Mormon Pioneers found out about the difficulty of cutting a route through this region the hard way. And they did it without a single fatality. In fact, there was a birth along the way, adding one to the company.
Pioneers traveled east in hopes of making a quick route to Bluff from the St. George area. They found water scarce, terrain rugged, and cutting a trail nearly impassible. Finally they came to an obstacle that was impossible to cross. They needed to drop down off the Mesa 1,000 feet to the Colorado River Basin. There was only a tiny cut in the rock, which they dubbed Hole-in-the-Rock. They hastily built a makeshift road and lowered the wagons. You have to see the pictures to believe their route.
The Escalante Heritage Center is dedicated to preserving the memory of this trek. Admittance to this small museum is free, and there are outdoor kiosks and a wagon display as well as restrooms. There are also large paintings that portray the trek that the pioneers made through Hole-in-the-Rock.
Inside the tiny musuem, you can watch a 20 minute interpretive video and see an ancient telephone and a few other historical artifacts from the small town of Escalante. The Visitor’s Center is open M-F from 9 am – 5 pm, but the hours seem to be flexible based on the volunteers who run the center.
If you’re near Escalante, be sure to stop for a half hour at the Escalante Heritage Center. You will spot the Center on the north side of the Scenic Highway 12 on the east side of Escalante.